Valentine’s Day is a tricky holiday among the Green Crowd. Some hate the commercialism and waste…. not to mention the unrealistic expectations on the men in our lives. But others see it as a chance to turn consumerism on its ear and show Mother Nature some love, by giving no-waste gifts or supporting Fair Trade or eco-conscious businesses.
I must admit, it’s nowhere near the top of my list, but NatureMom’s article on Vintage Valentine’s Day gifts almost had me buying the little red tin tea set for myself! I love the point she makes on vintage gifts being from a simpler time. I like to think retro items can give us a nostalgic break from our busy lives. Or the chance to share a fun memory of our childhood… just how that tin tea set reminded me of my Grandma.
So please forgive any preachy-ness that might creep in these tips for Greening your Valentine’s Day. As you probably know by now, my advice is always that the “greenest” gift is nothing at all, because who needs more stuff?
But please know that if you “heart” shopping on February 14th, we are thrilled you’ve come here for advice. Be sure to share with us how you are taking a detour from mainstream this year.
Most of the flowers grown for Valentine’s Day come from small countries with lax environmental standards. The “perfect” bloom is so sought after, some greenhouses actually use banned chemicals like DDT as pesticides. These chemicals pollute the air where they’re used, not to mention the lungs of the underpaid workers growing them. Then we bring them into our homes and take a big whiff every time we pass the flawless bouquet.
Solution: A Brighter Bloom
For something that lives longer than a week, give a potted flower or plant instead. Think of a stunning orchid or a lucky bamboo plant. Lilies and ivy reduce indoor air pollution. If only a bouquet of cut flowers will do, go organic with a company like Organic Bouquet.
Nearly 40 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold each year at Valentine’s Day. But at what price? In his new documentary, The Dark Side of Chocolate, award-winning journalist Miki Mistrati shows how children as young as eight years old are being trafficked into working the Ivory Coast cocoa fields for little or no pay.
Solution: Fair Trade Chocolate
The Fair Trade certification lets you know that farming families earned a fair wage for their work and that environmentally sustainable practices were used.
Valentine’s Day Cards
Globally, around one billion cards are sent each year at Valentine’s Day, making it the second largest card-sending holiday to Christmas. School children pass out 20 Valentine’s or more each. But the commercialism doesn’t stop with cartoon characters and teen queens featured on the cards, there’s also suckers, stickers and other trash can-bound trinkets adorning them.
Solution: Recycled or Plantable Seed Paper Cards
Coming from a family where our grandmother was a postmaster, we can’t help but wonder what she would think of an e-card. Yes, it’s way greener, but there’s something so impersonal about it. It’s a good thing cards made from recycled paper are easier to find these days. And for kids, we absolutely adore these plantable seed paper cards from Botanical Paperworks or Project Rainforest Eco Friendly Valentines.
We also found this fun project at Inhabitots – how to make friendship bracelets out of plastic bags. What a great substitute for the paper valentines!
Blood Diamond raised awareness and made great progress, but there’s still work to be done to make sure gems and precious metals are mined and made sustainably. And most importantly, that no one’s life is risked for something that’s supposed to be a symbol of love.
Solution: Precious and Pure
There are so many options, you’ll never have to walk into the mall jeweler again…. Vintage shops, Goodwill, consignment. We love finding a necklace made with shards of glass or china on Etsy, or how about this recycled sterling silver heart charm necklace?
And as always, we love to encourage you to give the gift of an experience. Dinner out at a restaurant that serves local or organic foods, a massage, an outdoor adventure… there are so many ways to gift an experience to the one you love.
We’d love to hear your ideas for greening Valentine’s Day. Tell us how you’re celebrating in a non-consumerism way, or how you’re using the day to support eco-conscious or Fair Trade businesses.